Thursday, March 5, 2015

Fimbulwinter Q&A Thread

As a writer I frequently find myself needing to communicate a lot of information in as few words as possible in order to keep the story moving, and it can be difficult to know whether I'm succeeding or not. Unlike many other issues my primary beta reader isn't much help with this, since we spend so much time discussing the setting, powers, assumptions, characterization and so on that he generally doesn't notice if an explanation doesn't actually make it into the story.

So here's your chance to tell me what didn't get explained well in Fimbulwinter, and maybe get an answer. I can't promise to answer every question, but if you want to know something that isn't a spoiler I'll probably have something to say about it.

To maximize your chance of getting a response, please adhere to a few simple rules:

  1. Limit yourself to asking about one topic per comment. That way if a conversation develops around a topic it won't end up mixed in with posts about some other topic.
  2. Check to see if someone else has already asked about the same thing. If you just want more clarification about a point that's already been discussed, add a reply to that comment instead of creating a new top-level comment of your own.


  1. Don't know if that comment was lost, but I think you did a really good job explaining items. That said, there may be some in your book 2 forum on Amazon that you would want to check out.

  2. In the other post you said...

    "For example, Cerise was actually born to a peasant family in the region of southern France, and Avilla's maker hid out in Iberia for a long time before moving to Scandinavia."

    This was in regards to ethnic origins of names. Does this mean that the world he is in is geographically the same as ours, just with an alternate timeline and magic?

    1. Yes, it's an alternate history version of Earth. There's going to be a bit more information about that in Black Coven, as Daniel learns more about his new world.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I had only one thing I was wondering about in this story: Geography.

      First I'd like to say that the fast pace of the story makes it difficult to fit in some information that's potentially useless to their immediate survival, so it makes sense it wasn't explored.

      But Hectate alludes to the fact Ragnorok only affects part of the world they're in, so I'd assume that geography is going to play a key factor to their long-term survival, right?

      I thought I'd tag this question onto this one as it's all about geography :)

  3. Also in the teaser thread we were speculating about the conjuring of gold, specifically why he chose a long and arduous task to obtain it rather than creating it himself. Is there a reason for this?

    1. This is something that was touched on briefly, but apparently it needed a longer explanation. Daniel's earth magic is good at conjuring stone and dirt, but the difficulty increases exponentially for materials that don't naturally exist in bulk form. So conjuring a few tons of iron takes as much work as thousands of tons of stone, and less common metals are even harder. If Daniel wanted to conjure up a significant amount of gems or pure gold he'd have to make himself a bigger power source first, and he wasn't confident enough of the town's security situation to be willing to spend days on that kind of project.

      Mind you, part of his motivation was also that he figured fortifying the town was a good way to keep the Baron off his back for a week or so, and also made the town more likely to survive until he was ready to move on.

    2. Thanks for the replies, it makes much more sense now. I always wondered why he didn't choose a denser metal for his amulet. It was touched on briefly in the book but it came across as only more difficult, not exponentially harder.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. When I was reading it, you mentioned the difficulty each time he conjured metal and I attributed it to a difference in density and/or a lower compatibility with his earth sorcery.

      If it's related to the availability of the materials themselves I think that needs a little highlighting, for me at least :)

  4. What date is it in the Fimbulwinter world?

    What i mean by that is was Daniel just moved sideways to an alternate timeline or also down (up?) time within that ATL vis-a-vis the 'present' (OTL) he hails from.

    1. According to Cerise the golden age of Greek philosophy, when people like Aristotle lived, was about two thousand years ago. So Daniel is currently working on the assumption that the date is the same as back home, and he's just in an alternate Europe that never industrialized.

  5. We know that Hecate transported Daniel to the Fimbulwinter world as a means to preserve her spiritual strategic toehold in that timeline (*).

    We also know that Cerise is supposedly her sole remaining worshipper. But for all that we have yet to see Cerise talk about her religion, perform acts of worship or convert fresh recruits for Team Hecate. Girl has a lot of virtues, but as pope slash apostle for her godhead she seems kind of a slacker.

    Avilla probably can't join the club on account she's a magical gingerbread golem and not a 'real' (read mortal) person, while Daniel's case might be complicated by his gender (*) and the fact that as far as Hecate's pantheon is concerned he's essentially an 'illegal alien' . But what about all the other people who've accreted around our trio?

    What exactly does becoming a worshipper of Hecate involve? What are the qualifications if any?


    * = and probably hoping to steal a march on any other divine opportunists looking fill the religious power vacuum created by the Aesir's selfdestruction with a cadre of missionaries in place ready to convert the (surviving) masses as soon as the rubble stops bouncing.

    ** = though we don't really know where Hecate stands on male followers. Mrs H doesn't really seem to be much of a stickler for the rules, to put it mildly, and as she said the victors write the histories.

    1. Witches are always agents of a deity - that's one of the things that makes them different from wizards. But Avilla worships Hestia, and changing her patron would cause her to lose most of her magic and have to rebuild her powers almost from scratch. So Cerise will have to look elsewhere.

      Mind you, her ideas about converting people are going to look odd to modern eyes because Hecate's church is a mystery cult rather than a mass religion. Hecate doesn't need or want huge numbers of low-devotion followers. Instead she prefers secretive cabals of fanatical witches, assassins and other violent schemers.

      But yes, Hecate also has a bit of a problem in that Cerise isn't exactly an ideal missionary.

    2. A thought: If Hedonism is a big part of her religion, and if you take a philosophical view of worship to be partly prayer and partly modeling your lifestyle to suit your deity...

      Then surely Cerise is doing a marvelous job of that at least? :P

  6. How do the enchantments Daniel makes work? Are they fueled by mana in the air? Fueled by the mana of the person holding them? Fueled by themselves, as with the amulet? When/will the enchantments wear off?

    1. Your user name is a GUID? Well, I guess that's one way to get a unique name...

      Low-powered enchantments can run on ambient mana, which is also how mages recharge themselves after expending power. But the ambient mana field is fairly weak, so a really energy-intensive enchantment could easily need more power than it can easily collect that way.

      That's why Daniels more power-hungry enchantments need to include a copy of his matter-to-mana spell as a power source. But that's a pretty complicated bit of enchantment work, and Daniel doesn't want to put it on things that might get lost or damaged. So generally he uses ambient mana for things he wants to mass produce, like the warmth cloaks, and only uses mater-to-mana on items that require it.

  7. In the combat sequence with the Giants and wolves On the way to Lanrest Daniel was able to use his force magic to pull off an incredible catch of an axe thrown by a giant and throw it at a wolf. Is he now a savant with spatial relations and mechanical physics? This capability seems to never reappear. It also didn't seem like Daniel had to do anything for this knowledge to come to his aid. What is the deal?

    1. I read that as an extension of his force magic (complemented by an understanding of basic Newtonian physics from his old life). Sorcery seems to be based on an intrinsic affinity for a specific aspect of the universe rather than knowledge. In essence it's the difference between a man and a fish when it comes to water: both can swim, but one of them has to learn how (and exert himself to avoid drowning) while the other just _does_ it.

    2. Grimmelhausen has it about right. Sorcery tends to include a package of magical senses and instinctive knowledge as well as the spellcasting abilities, and this was a case of Daniel's force sorcery allowing him to instinctively see the interplay of forces involved and manipulate them.

      That's also why Daniel is able to pull off his roof-hopping stunts without instantly killing himself, and it will become more of a factor in Black Coven as he starts making more use of ranged weapons.

    3. That makes sense. It also makes it much more plausible how without any plans or background as a civil engineer or architect Daniel is able to throw up massive complex fortifications. Earth element plus Force element = civil engineer skills. He is likely going to be a solid blacksmith since he has Earth, Force, and Fire.

      Another hack I have been thinking of for Daniel is the rest of the simple machines from basic physics. He has been working a lot on inclined planes but why not levers, pulleys, or springs. There are a lot of ways to use force that will help overcome a Troll's hide. A magical ratchet tightening a noose seems like a quick way to behead a troll. Enchant a stone fulcrum and Daniel may literally be able to lift mountains.

    4. > There are a lot of ways to use force that will help overcome a
      > Troll's hide. A magical ratchet tightening a noose seems like
      > a quick way to behead a troll.

      Sorry, but that fails the KISS principle, on multiple levels. First off trolls are taller than humans, as in two to three times a really tall guy's height.

      Getting a rope noose over a head that high up, and moving, would be a long shot under the best of circumstances. The chances of succeeding at it while dodging treetrunk-sized clubs and giant boulders to avoid getting squished into red paste... well the words slim to none come to mind, and i fear that's putting it mildly.

      And even if the task was somehow managed you could achieve the same end result much easier, quicker and a whole lot safer with force enhanced blades.

      > Enchant a stone fulcrum and Daniel may literally be able to lift
      > mountains.

      Nope. The fulcrum would still have to rest on something. It'd simply sink straight into the ground like a tent peg under a mountain-sized sledgehammer. And that's the tip of the (laws of physics) iceberg in the way of that idea.

    5. Re: fulcrum - if the stone barges that must way tons upon tons fully loaded don't sink why must the fulcrums?

      Re: clunky giant magic force machines. You deny the sheer awesomeness that is Green Lantern. Constructs that are in many ways products of imagination aren't prone to the difficulties of trying to use an actual cable and ratchet system. Daniel has to cast a spell not lasoo a troll. The idea being that he uses mental constructs that have better inherent efficiencies to how the magical forces move and relate to the world and increase the ability to bring force to bear. If the consistent problem with getting penetration on Troll hide is lack of thrust by shaping force into a simple blade why not have magic force spring loaded force blades. Or magic ratchets. Or magic pulley systems. They are all at base mental constructs energized by mana. If Daniel has the sorcerous capacity to do things like make an atomic power tap he can imagine a tool more complex than a spear or blade.

      I think the magic system we are getting described could make a sort of green lanternish approach possible. I don't know how well it would work aesthetically in the story. The more camp aspects of green lantern would be over the top. Still - just imagining force into forms that take advantage of the benefits of simple machines other than inclined planes doesn't seem to be a bridge too far.

      I suspect we will be finding out a bit more how the author thinks about this in just a few weeks at this point.

    6. > Re: fulcrum - if the stone barges that must way tons upon tons
      > fully loaded don't sink why must the fulcrums?

      Because it is not about absolute weight, but about the ratio of weight to surface area. If the ground pressure you exert exceeds the soil bearing capacity of the land you are stand or walking on you are going to sink in.

      It's the reason snowshoes work, and why you can park a 54 ton M1 battle tank in your frontyard and still find it the next day while a 90 pound model can't walk three steps across the same lawn without drilling all nine inches of her italian designer stilettos into the ground and snapping both of them off at the heel.

      The stone barge was described as a stone platform the width and length of a bus with a two foot high and a couple inches thick stone lip running around its edge to prevent people from accidentally going overboard.

      Lets say that:

      a) both the barge bottom and sides are of the same type of rock, granite, and a uniform thickness of 3 inches.

      b) the barge is 60 ft long and 20ft wide which is roughly the dimensions of a typical public transport bus.

      That would mean the barge was comprised of 10.746.243 ccm rock.

      Times the average density of granite (2,7 g/ccm) this translates to ca. 29 tons.

      Add to that a cargo of sixty people with an average weight of 150 lbs plus another 50 lbs of clothes, tools and personal effects plus another 20 lbs of food per head total weight comes to about 35,5 tons.

      Divide that weight by the surface area of the barge's bottom (1200 sq ft) and you get a ground pressure of 0,41 psi .

      Which is four times the ground pressure exerted by a conventional hovercraft, and slightly less than that of a human on snowshoes.

      Meanwhile even a fairly modest sized hillock will weigh in at many tens-of-thousands if not megatons, all of it bearing down on what's going to be a much smaller surface area.

      Which means there are only three realistic outcomes:

      1) the fulcrum rock gets crushed into powder.

      2) the fulcrum rock gets pushed flat into the ground.

      3) the lever either snaps, or alternatively ends up exerting sufficient force on the object it's supposed to lift to shear straight through it like the proverbial hot knife through soft butter.

    7. > Re: clunky giant magic force machines. You deny the sheer
      > awesomeness that is Green Lantern.

      As i've mentioned before i'm a pedantic twit.

      The way the literary universe of the Daniel Black books has been set up magic doesn't replace real world physics it just _complements_ them.

      Green Latern otoh while arguably awesome exists in a universe that operates entirely on comic book physics (and logic), not real world physics.

      Which renders any direct comparisons between the two almost inevitably moot as it adds apples and apes

    8. Option 3) shearing through things like a hot knife through butter was the outcome I thought Daniel would mostly desire.

      There are details to how magic and physics interrelate that make me think there may be possibilities that make your well done back of napkin calculations surmountable. An actual tank must use tracked wheels to overcome friction or the wheels would either spin out or not move at all given the weight. So, it seems like there are aspects to how Force works that allow or insist on normally associated forces like weight and friction to be disconnected. That is one of the reasons I think Daniel has trouble getting penetration with his force blades. They have no mass. It is really odd since F= M * A. In this world there is obviously another variable besides Mass that is at work that allows for Force and Acceleration to still be at work. Without mass or it seems friction it seems that it is hard to use pure magic as a blade. A lot of Daniel's later tweaks seem to involve increasing acceleration (Grinder's spinning blades). He also seems to be using stone to include mass in the teaser chapter. In the first book he grounds his force lance into a wall with a spike and uses a trolls mass against itself. It seems like having some way to have mass included into whatever formula replaces F=M*A would be useful or imagining the force in a manner where the tool's mass wasn't meaningful in how it works.

      I think it would be possible to enchant a summoned stone of massive density and hardness that can simultaneously be used as a fulcrum or anchor point to allow for better application of force against enemies. It can be reinforced magically and could disperse force below it to overcme its actual surface area.

      It isn't actually clear if force can be used as a lever. He creates shields and walls with it but it may have no ability to create a bar of force that can transmit a push on one end to a lift on the other. A magical seesaw might just push up on one end and just disperse back into the void if too much stress is placed on it.

      Thinking about your comment has made me decide that Daniel should just use his flesh abilities to go Germ Warfare on Loki's minions. If a bacteria was good enough to end War of The Worlds in a totally unsatisfying pacifist manner for H. G. Wells then it can ruin this series too. Daniel invents strains of Ebola that only work on Giants, Fen Wolves, Goblins, and Trolls. The End.

    9. > Thinking about your comment has made me decide that Daniel should
      > just use his flesh abilities to go Germ Warfare on Loki's minions.

      Those minions are some highly disparate creatures inside and out. No way a germ that affects one species is going be able to infect one of the others. Definitely no human germ no matter how modified. I mean frost giants have blue blood that causes _frostburn_ on contact for crying out loud.

      Also they have no shortage of magic users of their own so it's not like they couldn't counteract such plagues, and of course the first question anyone should ask themselves before introducing a new weapon to the battlefield is "Would i like my worst enemy to have this.". Because that _will_ happen.

      And finally there's the huge mythological clubfoot to this idea: Hel. One of the big three of Loki's children along with Fenrir and the Midgard Serpent.

      She's a death goddess whose domain specifically includes those killed by disease (among other dishonorable ie. non-combat related demises). Any one who succumbs to biological warfare automatically becomes her subject. Best case scenario the enemy just recycles its own casualties.
      Worst case scenario Team Loki decides to unleash some designer plagues of their own.

      Then not only do you have to deal with virgin field epidemics among the human populace on top of the monster hordes trying to eat everybody, the enemy also gets legions of undead pest victims as reinforcements.

    10. My general approach to magic is to say that physics works exactly the same in Daniel's word as it does in RL, and magic is an additional form of energy that can do lots of interesting things but still has to follow the same rules.

      So, for example, if Daniel uses magic to levitate a boulder he's expending the same amount of energy as if he physically picked it up. Magic obeys conservation of energy, and force magic in particular is limited because it obeys conservation of momentum. This tends to create a lot of limitations on what magic can do, but I find that this is a good thing because they make the protagonist's life difficult in a way that feels realistic.

      For example, thrown force blades aren't massless (there's actually a bit of air moving with the blade that the magic is attached to), but the fact that they hardly weigh anything is the main reason they have such poor penetration. Daniel has been figuring out that they work a lot better if they're attached to something solid, but that means you have ammunition to worry about. So does he make single-use force ammo on the fly, or spend time stocking his troops with enchanted arrows, or invest some effort in coming up with a more elaborate solution? Issues like this can drive a lot of story.

    11. It was mostly a joke as WMD seem rather non-heroic and also end the story rather quickly. Mind you if this world is ever attacked by ravening hordes I hope the Pentagon does anything it can including chemical weapons etc.

      Batting this stuff around is fun though so I'll devils advocate a bit.Daniel can get some bodies of the different races attacking. Healthy bodies all have some disease germs in them. He could work from these samples.

      Daniel should have a decent chance of cracking the hematology of anti-freeze Giant blood if he can heal a gingerbread and magic sex doll.

      I don't know if this world has the a Germ theory of disease understood. Healing magic might be gross anatomical stuff and Daniels general healing spell kind of stuff. They might not know how disease works to defend or weaponize it. They are also unlikely to realize a disease outbreak had magical roots unless you believe that they have medical magical forensic shamans who can track the 1000th generation of a mutated disease back to Daniel. Or he breaks evil overlord rule #42 and brags he was behind it.

      Fighting Gods. Well, this is a question of what gods can do. Are they omniscient? Omnipotent? Constrained to abilities symbolically related to their role in their pantheon. I'd just say that if Hel can pull off what you describe then she should be raising the fallen already.

      What do you make of the religious component to magic in this world? The priest seemed pretty effective and up on magical theory and practice. It seemed like that was typical for a priests role in the world. Their power didn't seem to come from a divine source. The church seemed much more like a political and social institution rather than a spiritual center.

      Given the fact that magic seems to be a natural phenomenon thete hasn't been much sign of theomancy or spiritualism as a concrete thing or source of power.

      Hecate and the general vibe from Odin's priest make me think that the Gods aren't omniscient. They come across as highly powerful demons you bargain with who are running their own agendas. As incarnations of concepts like magic or death or birth or whatever we haven't quite seen how that works.

      Religious practice in a world that needs no faith as you can literally meet the Gods and where prayer is a very transactional kind of thing is kind of wild. What is worship under those circumstances. It is sort of like kissing royalties ass to get some favors.

    12. bear in mind that Daniel was a Computer Programmer with a lot of D&D experience. He doesn't have the same knowledge as other people would have if they actively studied the field before they chose their elements.

    13. If magic obeys laws of physics, then should it even be possible for anyone but Daniel to conjure anything without his amulet? Should it even be possible for him?
      Conservation of energy to mass: 9 x 10^16 Joules = 1 kilogram

      Before he got his amulet, Daniel was exhausted after a fight with a troll in Avilla's house where he used maybe 60,000 kilojoules of energy maximum (or about 100 grenades worth of energy).

      In order to create even a few kilograms of mass, Daniel would need Trillions of Kilojoules of energy.

      So is Daniel not "creating" that mass of rock (summoning?), or does the amulet allow him to multiply his power by literally billions of times? Because the whole "Create tons and tons of rock" thing is beyond ridiculous if he's creating that rock out of magical energy.

    14. He is not really converting his mana into matter directly. This was addressed in the first book when he starts to modify his body the first night. "Where was the extra mass coming from, anyway? I had a dim sense that it was being conjured from some external source, just like with the hammer I’d made in my first battle.". What is this external source or what are the consequences of bringing so much extra energy into the universe from what seems to be another plane of existance I do not know. It may be addressed in one of the future books though.

    15. I had thought about that, because the energy requirement implications are absurd for just the amulet, let alone the hammer or gods forbid the wall he mostly completed.

      But I figured it was some sort of summoning magic, so somewhere a hammer's worth of rock disappeared and was moved to be repurposed by the magic.

      With that in mind the energy requirements cover: summoning, shaping, and moving it around.

    16. Yes, Daniel's earth magic works by summoning material from somewhere else rather than creating it. The energy requirements for creating matter from energy are too insane for that approach to be even remotely feasible.

  8. In Fimbulwinter it's mentioned a fewtimes that magic takes a toll on the mind. That's why Daniel can't do magic 24/7 despite his flesh magic and an unlimited mana supply. Does the magnitude of the mana used/spell size (big force blade over little force blade) increase and decrease the mental stress? Does the mental stress build proportionally to the amount of time magic has been used (half an hour of any magic is twice as much stress as fifteen minutes of any magic). Is it a combination of time-spent and mana-used? If Daniel uses his own magical energy as opposed to channeling the amulet's mana is the mental stress decreased?

    1. I think of it a lot like physical exertion. Channeling huge mana flows is like lifting heavy weights, while casting for long periods of time is like running a marathon. Either one will wear you out, and trying to do both at once makes it worse. Taking rest breaks will let you keep going longer, but eventually you're still going to collapse.

      When Daniel uses his amulet that's a bit like being a cyborg with artificial systems that keep your blood sugar up (the power source) and break down fatigue poisons (the healing). Those improvements will let you keep going long after a normal person would have collapsed, but if you keep pushing it you'll eventually hit a limit due to more subtle forms of damage that aren't being addressed.

  9. What is the upper limit of mana Daniel can channel from an amulet per second? One fireball for every two seconds of mana channeled from the amulet? He must have an upper capacity or Daniel would have been able to curb-stomp every monster in the second half of Fimbulwinter, and would have been able to take all five of those troll by himself by virtue of conjuring tons of rock for each of them.

    1. Daniel's current amulet produces a lot more energy than his usual battle magic consumes. Usually he's being limited by the fact that it takes a few seconds of concentration to throw together a big spell, and he has trouble producing magical effects more than a few feet from his own location. That, and there are usually a bunch of squishy normal humans in the immediate area that he doesn't want to kill by accident.

      Needless to say, Daniel finds it pretty frustrating that he generally has the raw power to crush his foes like insects if they'd just stop attacking him and stand still for a few seconds. But he'll be finding new ways to deal with that problem in the next book.

  10. What are the capabilities of an "average" wizard?

    I'll break down a wizards capabilities into three categories. Mana pool size, Arcane knowledge/magical intuition, and battle skill/spell size. Here are my estimations of where our heroes lie in this regard:

    Daniel has really huge reserves thanks to his amulet, ridiculous intuition because of his mana element, and can make fairly large, devastating battle spells.
    Avilla has really huge reserves because of her inhuman origins, very specialized arcane knowledge (hearth), and isn't very good at battle without a home.
    Cerise has large reserves because she steals the strength of those she defeats, has very specialized arcane knowledge (demons), and is stronger in battle than a regular person because of her demon enhanced body but can't do large battle spells.

    This is conjecture because the average isn't clear. Is there an average?

    If there is an average, these would be some of my questions:
    Mana reserve size? Mastery over how many elements? How far does intuition go for normal wizards? Do most only know a small fragment of arcane knowledge? Can literally anybody become a wizard? Is special aptitude for magic as rare as 1 in 100? 1 in 10? 1 in 1000? Thanks.

    1. Daniel is not a wizard, he is a sorcerer. Cerise says, 'A few sorcerers, and every kingdom has at least one guild for wizards," when Daniel asks. We don't know a wizard's skill-set or power level, though that will most likely be covered fairly quickly in Black Coven.

    2. Sorcerers have an instinctive command over a particular type of magic, and generally have a large pool of personal power and some related special abilities. Witches are a sort of artificial sorcerer - through worship and ritual they become attuned to the domains of their divine patron, and gain a personal mana pool and instinctive magic in their domain. Both types of caster can also build on their instinctive magic to create more complex effects, but tend to remain restricted to their original domains.

      Wizardry is a more academic art that allows a relatively normal human, with only a tiny spark of natural power, to perform magical rituals that can have lasting effects. It can take years of work for a wizard to build up his personal power enough to cast spells on the fly, and most of them also rely heavily on bound familiars and permanent enchantments to be effective in combat. However, unlike sorcerers or witches a wizard can theoretically research anything, and the good ones take advantage of that to build a unique collection of powers with strong synergies.

      Cerise and Avilla are both young prodigies, with a lot more power and skill than the average witch of their age. Daniel is an absurdly strong sorcerer even without taking his cheats into account, but he's relatively unskilled and tends to rely on brute-force solutions. Wizards will tend to have less raw power but a lot more skill, and will have lots of options for getting things done that don't involve actually casting spells.

  11. Can Daniel learn a wizards spells, or is he limited to his sorcery?

    1. Learning to be a wizard is like getting a degree in engineering - there's no special innate ability required, but it takes above-average intelligence and years of dedicated study before it really starts to pay off.

      But Daniel's meta-magic sorcery is a huge cheat here, because it gives him an instinctive understanding of the physics of magic and the ability to actually see spells working. It still takes him some effort to learn wizardry, but it will be orders of magnitude faster than it would be for a normal person. He's too busy staying alive to focus on it at the moment, but even so you can expect to see him picking up useful bits and pieces of magic from any wizard he comes in contact with.

    2. Would understanding say fire spells increase his fire sorcery?

    3. Probably not. Sorcery isn't book learning, it is instinctive knowledge. More like a natural talent or affinity for something; genius in the classical sense
      of the word.

      Studying something you are gifted in may let you leverage that gift by increasing your efficiency and versatility, but it won't make you any more gifted.

      To put it another way: you can practice playing the violin, you can't practice being Yehudi Menuhin.

    4. Yes but you are forgetting his meta-magic sorcery. If it allows him to understand a wizards spells then will it unlock "instinctive understanding" of other types of sorcery? If he can translate fire spells, will it add to his fire sorcery? You must remember that his knowledge is most likely immense compared to what we have seen from him. He just doesn't know what questions to ask himself. There is no index. Taking 'the stuff magic is made of' and watching it turned into spells could naturally increase his understanding of all magics. Translating the air magic/weather book could give him air sorcery to a limited degree. He will see what makes the spell tick and be able to find other uses and modifications for it.

    5. This is something only the author can definitively answer, but going by what he has said on the subject so far i'm doubtful it works the way you think it does.

      You can't really 'learn' sorcery of _any_ kind. It is a gift granted either by birth or by some ultra-powerful pandimensional entity schlepping your behind through the para-temporal void.

      William said that Daniel's meta-magic sorcery lets him study wizardry much, much quicker than any human adept possibly could, perhaps even improve on the spells he learns (like giving Mozart the notation for an unknown piece of music, or Archimedes a modern physics textbook), but again that is wizardry _not_ sorcery.

      Learning water magic (or air magic, or spirit magic, ... ), does not make you a water sorcerer, it makes you a wizard with water spells in his repertoire.

      Word of God of course may contradict me on this, but talent/affinity isn't something you can learn or research. You either have, or you don't.

      Moreover from a writer's perspective there are some very compelling storytelling reasons against allowing that sort of 'upgrade' shortcut.

      The Daniel Black books may at their heart be an unapologetic adolescent power fantasy (nothing wrong with that), but there is no quicker or surer way to ruin a story - even and especially that kind of story - than for the author to make the protagonist a member in the Power of the Month Club.

      It destroys dramatic tension and kicks off a runaway power-inflation which ends with the hero turning a raging (and quite boring) Gary-Stu.

    6. I thought of (got the impression from reading the book) a sorcery as an innate trait.

      So a sorceror could become a wizard but a wizard couldn't become a sorceror, even though their abilities might be identical, it's the source of the abilities that's different, right?

      So becoming a fire wizard would increase his ability to utilize his fire sorcery but not expand the sorcery itself.

      At best it'd be like working out a small muscle, it'd become as strong as possible but never become a big muscle.

      Hectate states it's a quirk of passing between realities that allowed him to get the sorceries, so it's not something you can normally gain.

      It also suggests to me that because he was coming from a world without magic, going into one with... then as he gained the properties of magic to be part of that world he was able to gain more than just the basics while he was at it.

      That's just how I saw it, was I close? :D

    7. I believe we are talking past each other on this.

      My impression is that his mana sorcery is the sorcery that all other sorcery branches out from.

      Here is an example....

      He used his understanding of what mana truly is and combined it with his scientific knowledge of nuclear fission to make his mana generator. If you were to conceptualize that spell by itself it would not be simply understanding what magic is. So it is my belief that with proper knowledge combined with his mana sorcery he can create the effects of other types of sorcery.

      I suppose I am likening his mana sorcery to an understanding of physics. The base elements of our world, and how they behave and interact. As he learns a wizards fire spells he will be able to translate it into its raw form and be able to cast it as if it were fire sorcery through his mana sorcery.

      Here it is from another perspective. Take a naturally brilliant computer programmer and let him look at any program. Even though he doesn't know shit about that program, as he learns what it does he can translate it into code he understands, making a new program with the same function. Perhaps even better. I am looking at his mana sorcery as if it were the base code that all magic is written from. I seem to remember Daniel being a programmer....

      From Fimbulwinter; "My last element was mana. The stuff magic is made of. A fundamental force of nature, obviously unknown to modern physics, but there must be some relationship to the Standard Model there or I wouldn't be able to exit in the same universe as Hecate. Understanding blossomed as I focused on the concept. The nature of magic, its relationship to the other fundamental forces, how spells work, why they wear off, how to embed them permanently into objects. More insights and abilities coalesced faster than I could pay attention to them, just like with the other elements."


    8. (I love theorycrafting stuff, so if I sound argumentative that's just me getting too into it XD )

      I think I know where we're differing in direction.

      >My impression is that his mana sorcery is the sorcery that all other sorcery branches out from.

      I dunno if that's true or not, but it also suggests that he'd be able to expand his mana sorcery to encompass other things.

      Whereas I'm under the impression that a sorcery is fixed, like a genetic predisposition which gives both innate knowledge/understanding as well as the ability to utilize it.

      So a hypothetical: Let's say he has an electricity sorcery. He could theoretically create a spell that would sap heat energy to create electricity, mirroring modern generators that run on heat.

      But despite his understanding of heat or fire or kinetic energy, he wouldn't be able to gain further control over those from his electricity sorcery outside of draining heat into electricity.

      About your programmer example:

      I figure it would allow him to dissect the code and figure out what it does, but the translation into a code he understands doesn't sit right with me. Traslation requires a more in-depth knowledge of something than is required to figure out what it does.

      Translation is also active, so it would be like casting an actual spell, whereas looking at it and figuring out what it does is passive, more of an analytical ability than an active ability.

      Back to Daniel's abilities:

      So I figure A Mana Sorcery is like the ultimate supplemental ability. It doesn't give you much on it's own but it can make everything else you can do better.

      Even if he could divine knowledge on every other branch of magic from it, it wouldn't allow him to do any of that magic, he'd have to learn some wizardry or witchcraft to get that ability. But then the Mana sorcery would be able to be utilized to enhance that ability, once he has it.

    9. Theorycrafting is fun. On this though, I think we can bounce back ideas as much as we want, we just don't have enough information. How exactly does a wizard cast spells? Do they need circles, incantations or focus items? Or can they sling spells like Daniel does?

      If they can sling spells like Daniel does, they just need much more education and learning to do what he does instinctively then I am simply making an argument out of nothing. I guess I should be looking forward in Black Coven to a comparison of casting styles, not just types of casters. He did find that book about it in the temple.

      In the second teaser we saw an Adept of the Red Conclave. So here is a trained wizard that was only described as large, bearded and armored with plate mail. We don't get any description of if he was armed with any weapons be it staff, sword or whatnot. For all we know he could have the Golden Phallic Scepter of Spewing Force with the vibrating function conveniently tucked out of sight.

      So what we need is more information! *cough cough* Teaser 3 *cough cough*

      Or the book to come out.

    10. Having, say, water sorcery is a bit like being a merman - you have a bunch of natural abilities related to your element (water breathing, pressure support, swimming, modified senses) that work without requiring you to understand anything about what they're doing. In some cases these abilities can also be fantastically complicated (e.g. natural sonar).

      Using wizardry is like building yourself a suit of scuba gear. It can duplicate many of the abilities of sorcery, but you're fundamentally using magical equipment (either items or spells) rather than changing yourself. So a wizard has to deal with the same sorts of ergonomic challenges as an engineer using technology, and complicated effects tend to require elaborate control systems that take a lot of concentration to use.

      In this analogy Daniel's metamagic is like being one of those comic book super-inventors. He can build the magical equivalent of Iron Man's armor in a cave with a pile of scraps in a few days, and he has instinctive insights into how the universe works that surpass the best efforts of normal researchers. This does not automatically let him build anything he wants, but it does mean he can learn a new field of magic very quickly with even minimal information.

      So in Fimbulwinter Daniel was using his metamagic to figure out how the active abilities granted by his other sorceries work, and then enchant magic items that produced similar effects. The obvious next step would be to learn some conventional wizardry, and combine it with his knowledge of physics to produce a wider range of effects.

      But in order to create a new sorcery Daniel would have to do the magical equivalent of turning a normal person into a merman. While he can certainly muster the raw power for that kind of thing, it's an open question whether he'll ever get his hands on the knowledge to actually invent such a transformation.

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  13. How many books do you plan to write for Daniel?

    1. Currently I've got a pretty good idea of what will happen in the next two books, but beyond that things aren't plotted out in any detail. Depending on what ideas I get and how well I can manage the power creep the series could end up being anywhere from five books to seven or eight.

  14. I asked this question on the Amazon forums. Why doesn't Daniel make 2 more power sources, one for pure shielding and one for pure healing while he can use his big amulet for just power for himself and not divert it anywhere else?

    1. He didn't do that in Fimbulwinter because he didn't think he needed to until the fight were he almost died, and after that he didn't have time.

      He's going to be upgrading again in Black Coven, of course, but even then raw power isn't his big limitation. Usually when he gets hurt its because an enemy has managed to bypass his defenses rather than beating them down, so adding new types of protection will work better than just making his force field stronger. Similarly, he already has plenty of power for casting spells in combat so he's more likely to invest time in new weapons to get around his casting time issues.

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    3. > He's going to be upgrading again in Black Coven, of course, but
      > even then raw power isn't his big limitation.

      True he already has a pretty sweet power generator. What he still needs though (or at least would be really, really handy) is a capacitor, a compact, rapid charge/discharge mana battery.

      A constant, unlimited (or rather unending) power source is wonderful, but the critical parameter is peak demand, and a mana storage item to buffer those shortterm demand spikes would be invaluable for Dainel.

      It would also provide a useful compromise solution to the problem of needing to supply his followers and allies with arms and equipment potent enough to take down supernaturally tough sapient megafauna while at the same time preventing the proliferation of his matter/energy conversion technology (thaumatology?).

      Is that impossible (*), or did he simply never think of it?


      * = it's mentioned several times in Fimbulwinter that Avilla is, among other things, a rather massive mana storage container and technically she or at least her body is artificial, a made thing. Now one could argue that Avilla is:

      a) simply a unique artifact. period.

      b) built with unobtanium (Essence of Aphrodite, living souls...)

      c) sapient

      d) the spell matrix involved is just too complex and time intensive to replicate, at least for mass production.

      e) all of the above

      OTOH the very fact of her existence indicates it can be done even if _he_ himself can't. Yet.

      Having an unlimitedWhenever Dainel

    4. From the teaser:

      "My shield’s power reserve dropped again, but there was enough left to tank a few more hits."

      This indicates to me that he already has a mana battery for his shield that should be getting constantly recharged by his amulet. He needs to spend stored mana from a reserve to nullify damage while using his shield. He could make the reserve bigger to enable him to take a lot more damage though.

      I am basing this on the fact that when he first used his shields and was struck by a weapon it drained his internal mana reserves in direct proportion to the amount of damage he nullified.

      If he can make a battery for his shield it stands to reason he can do it for any other enchantment.

    5. > From the teaser:
      > "My shield’s power reserve dropped again, but
      > there was enough left to tank a few more hits."
      > This indicates to me that he already has a mana
      > battery for his shield that should be getting con-
      > stantly recharged by his amulet.
      > He needs to spend stored mana from a reserve to
      > nullify damage while using his shield. He could
      > make the reserve bigger to enable him to take a
      > lot more damage though.
      > I am basing this on the fact that when he first
      > used his shields and was struck by a weapon it
      > drained his internal mana reserves in direct pro-
      > portion to the amount of damage he nullified.
      That's for a spell cast _directly_ , not an enchantment
      on an object. People (well magic users anyway) have
      a personal mana reservoir which they can tap to power
      spells, and which gets replenished from.the ambient
      magic field.

      > If he can make a battery for his shield it stands to
      > reason he can do it for any other enchantment.

      Yes/No/Sort of. The way I read it was that force
      shields are something of a special case.

      Yes, they have an energy pool (for lack of a better
      term) that gets drained as the shield soaks/counters
      kinetic energy transmitted to the object it is anchored
      to. And yes, that pool can be replenished by feeding
      more mana into the shield's spell-matrix. However
      that doesn't necessarily mean that the pool _itself_
      has to be mana.

      It could be - and in my opinion more likely is - another
      form of (force?) energy that mana gets translated into
      by the spell. The reason I think so is, that if Daniel
      (already) had a general purpose type mana battery he
      could build into his enchantments his 'mass-market'
      gear wouldn't be so bottlenecked by ambient mana as
      its power source. He could simply give them a really
      big energy reserve that will power them for the minutes
      at a time they are actually used, and slowly recharge
      from ambient during the hours/days they are not.

      Now mind in the absence of WOG this is all just idle
      speculation on my part, but it would fit the facts we have,
      so far.

    6. Yes, Daniel has the ability to build something like a mana battery into his magic items. So far the only thing he's done that with is is amulet, to give it a big well of reserve power it can use to keep his shield up when it's getting heavily beaten on.

      There will likely be more uses of this later, although Daniel is a little reluctant to abuse the idea because if the item gets broken any mana it held is released into its surroundings. With a small battery that's fairly harmless, but a big one could cause a lot of destructive effects.

    7. What kind of destructive effects are we talking about? A leak in a mana battery should just dramatically increase the ambient mana concentration in the area since it is just pure mana which has not been converted into any other form. Does this have a detrimental effect on spells and creatures? If so he could technically make mana bombs of sorts to royally mess up any other spells in that area. Kind of like EMP weapons do to electronics.

    8. As I read about these comments, it seems like one big limiting factor to Daniel's increase in power is his reluctance to create artifacts that can end up in the hands of potential enemies. The more he makes the more chance there is of one going missing, right?

      But then I thought, what if he internalized them? There's plenty of space in the body for some pebbles... He could make a pebble that outputs a small amount of magic but stores it up to have a large mana battery.

      Hell he could replace his bones with Steel given enough time and then have that deplete it's mass to do things, including powering a spell to conjure more steel to repair itself.

      With all this in mind it then seems like Daniel's second biggest limiting factor is his time to do all of this stuff?

    9. In fact human bones have processes that add and remove calcium constantly, so if he were to modify these processes he could have his body passively replace his bones with anything. It would take months to have effect and years to complete, and would require his blood stream to contain the things to replace the bones with... But it'd work.

  15. As my question was deleted proving I needed to make a new topic. As was explained in another question, David can't conjure gold (efficiently at least) but could he extract gold and/or other valuable minerals (gems, silver, etc.) from the earth itself? Would it need to be within a certain range?
    Again sorry for incorrectly posting and thank you for listening.

    1. Scandinavia does have a lot of metal deposits (primarily iron, but some noble metals as well) as well as some emeralds (in Norway, don' know the quality though), and Daniel would probably make a highly efficient one man mining operation (selectively banishing the surrounding rock leaving the gem crystals/purified ore), but i doubt he'd have the time or inclination to go prospecting in the middle of an apocalypse.

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    3. I wasn't speaking strictly towards wealth but about the use of the things that could be extracted. With more iron he could make spears, shields, and swords, or if there were diamonds then diamond tipped weapons. Also the metals could be used to distribute heat once a settlement is established.

    4. Opportunity cost. Time is his most scarce resource, and unless it's spend on something nobody else can do he's wasting it. Weapons can be bought or scavenged, as can be metal, if really needed.

    5. Makes sense. The only reason I can think of where he might want to conjure metals himself would be if for some reason he needs metals with more purity that can normally be made with primitive refining methods. And even in that case it would probably be much more time and energy efficient to purify a large batch of metal that has already been extracted by others.

  16. Okay this may sound an irrelevant question, but is Daniel an orphan?

    The reason i ask is when we meet him the universe has just taken a massive shit on his life, and even if we accept the fact that apparently all of his acquaintances are really his spouses friends rather than his own (*) there is no mention of his parents, grandparents, or any other relatives he could turn to in his hour of need.

    And when he gets the offer from Hecate not once, even in passing, does family and how they might react to his sudden disappearance cross his mind.

    I mean we know he's not a sociopath who is simply missing the Connect to People module in his brain, and being in his (mid?) thirties statistically speaking mom and dad should still be around at the very least as well as the odd granny/grandpa.

    Sure not all families are close or numerous, but guy gets transported to another world into the middle of a shooting war and not a _single_ person from his old life getting mentioned that he misses, might miss him, or would have an opinion/pertinent comment/funny reaction to some of the things Daniel encounters? Seems a tad odd, no?


    * = only part of the book where I felt the protagonist was in breach of the 'no whining' clause. Seriously, if you are in Daniel's situation and can't think of even one person in your life who won't believe an out-of-the-blue accusation of you being a wife-beater in a classic he said she said then i'm sorry, man, but that's on you not them.

    1. Daniel was like a lot of people I've known in the tech industry - not especially close to his family, and too wrapped up in work to develop a lot of close friendships.

      I went back and forth a bit on whether to include some of the 'thinking about home' passages you generally see in this kind of story. I ended up skipping them because I don't have any plans to make the other people in his old life important to his new one, and the possibilities I came up mostly ended up being pointless whining that he was too busy to indulge in anyway.

      It's possible I might go back and flesh out Daniel's background on Earth more at some point, but only if the story takes a turn that would make such details significant.

    2. I get the impression he hasn't had time to sit and think about home, because that's time not thinking about how to not die... or other more luscious subjects which are equally more pressing to think about ;)

  17. [moved from another thread as i 'm not sure whether this counts as a separate subject or not]

    Considering his proficiency in meta-magic could he enchant an object so that it could enchant another object?

    1. Heh. This question comes up in Black Coven.

    2. That is cheating... I'm so impressed!

    3. > Heh. This question comes up in Black Coven.

      von Neumann golems! (c:

  18. I did not understand one particular aspect of force magic. While fighting the frost giant and his wolves, Daniel is able to easily cut through the wolves by increasing the size of his force blade. Is there some relation between the size of the force constructs and its effectiveness or penetrative power? Since the force constructs are massless how does size affect its function?

    1. His force blades worked better in that fight because he was holding them instead of throwing them. When he does that the effect is similar to the monofilament blades you see in a lot of SF - the blade might be weightless but he has mass, and he can push it through flesh and bone pretty easily.

    2. Nice.. that also explains why his force enchanted arrows and knife will cut through anything.. That's a pretty cool application of force.

    3. I had a thought: Rather than force blade acting as an actual blade. I.E. as a solid object forcing it's way into another using force per area to do so...

      Why not have them work in a perpendicular fashion? i.e. a line infinitely thin which is a source for two opposing forces working at 180 degrees to each other. I'm finding it hard to explain, so a drawing!

      ------|----> Blade direction ->

      So the effect is still cutting by splitting the thing it comes into contact with, but it splits directly rather than indirectly.

    4. How about anchor a monofilament blade between two walls and let the mobs cut themselves up? Or wrap monofilament blade around your target like a mummy and tighten it all the way?

  19. Given his mana affinity, could Daniel create a spell/enchantment that could just direct-drain mana from another caster, or possibly as an area-of-effect? Either to use the mana himself or just deny it to his opponent?

    1. From the area? Yes. From an enemy caster? Maybe, but outside of special cases (like needing to imprison a mage) there are generally easier ways to fight someone. Draining a victim's magic is generally going to be harder to do than just killing them, although it might make sense if they have especially tough defenses against physical attacks.

  20. Are there male witches, and female wizards? Do priests get powers from their god/dess, and if so, is there a difference between a priest and a witch, beyond the name?

    1. Most of this has already been covered in some of the other threads (see excerpts below), if not explicitly then at least by strong implication

      1.) Are there male witches, and female wizards?

      Learning to be a wizard is like getting a degree in engineering - there's no special innate ability required, but it takes above-average intelligence and years of dedicated study before it really starts to pay off.

      G: Absent Word of God of the contrary i'd say there isn't really anything that would suggest women can't become wizards, or men being unable to become witches.

      Now a _particular_ god or goddess might insist all his/her clergy be of a single gender, but that doesn't mean the gender has to be female. I'm pretty sure Ares forex would prefer his servants to have an Y chromosome.

      2.) Do priests get powers from their god/dess, and if so, is there a difference between a priest and a witch, beyond the name?

      Sorcerers have an instinctive command over a particular type of magic, and generally have a large pool of personal power and some related special abilities. Witches are a sort of artificial sorcerer - through worship and ritual they become attuned to the domains of their divine patron, and gain a personal mana pool and instinctive magic in their domain.

      Witches are always agents of a deity - that's one of the things that makes them different from wizards. But Avilla worships Hestia, and changing her patron would cause her to lose most of her magic and have to rebuild her powers almost from scratch.

      G: cuius regio, eius religio. If you read the book carefully it's pretty clear that the distinction between witch and priest is whether the deity the person in question claims as her patron is part of the pantheon the ruling class has adopted as the official state religion.

      If the king and his nobles worship the same pantheon your god belongs to you are a priest. If they don't you are a witch who worships a demon/devil. In other words it's all about politics and history (the dominant believe of the latest conqueror/culture to carve out The Big Empire[tm] ) not a difference in kind.

    2. I asked because I can imagine non-intuitive answers to those questions.
      If the wizards form a monolithic entity, they might have institutionalized gender discrimination, making female wizards few and far between.
      (As for male witches, I'm mostly interested in what they would be called - every author seems to use different terminology.)

      Priests might use rituals that invoke a deity's power instead of being personally altered by them, sort of like specialized wizards. (I'm not very impressed with the magic power of the priests we've seen so far.)
      Also, if the demarcation is political, wouldn't it be more logical for Avila to be called a Priestess of Hestia/Freya/whomever, rather than a Hearth Witch? Fertility/Home seems like a stereotypically "good" deity's domain.

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    4. [Just saw my typos]
      She is called a witch because she follows (and correct me if I'm wrong) a "heretic" goddess or a deity that is not within the currently reigning pantheon. The same would be said if she was devoted to Ra in a Greek pantheon dominated world. Also she serves Hestia, whom is know to be the goddess of the hearth thus being a witch of the same domain as is her patron deity. Additionally good and evil are determined by intentions and not abilities, someone with the ability to make curses could be good or evil depending on how they use it (even if most ARE evil).

    5. I find it a bit off that the distinction between witch and priest is purely based on the pantheon worshipped. Avilla is not at Odin's temple, even though she worships a Greek godess. The priest of Odin also suggests that Cerise is considered a witch because she drains the power of others by killing them, not even mentioning whatever deity she worships. Althogh admittedly, Avilla does the same thing, even sharing it with others when she hands out the felwolf heart. She might not have done it to such an extend that the priest of Odin cannot sense it.

      As for evil vs. good magic, I have to agree with Daniel's (and Odin's clergy's) conclusion that Cerise's magic is dangerous and very prone to lead to corruption and evil. Killing things for power is always a slippery slope, but when you actually absorb some of the personality traits of that what you kill it becomes even more dangerous. You will end up as a monster if you do it too often as Cerise's situation points out.

    6. Yes, the essential difference between a priest and a witch is who they worship. 'Witch' and 'warlock' are labels the Aesir apply to the renegade followers of the surviving Olympian deities, or to other powers whose worship is forbidden in their lands.

      But there are also major differences in the styles of magic granted by different deities. Priests of the Aesir use a lot of simple ritual magic based on drawing power from large congregations of followers, for instance, while witches have to rely heavily on their personal power. So a priest might sacrifice convicted criminals to do things like consecrate temples or bless longboats, while a witch would be more likely to murder her enemies to bind their spirits as familiars or strengthen her personal magic.

  21. If that is true (Aesir priests sacrificing criminals for power), then why was the priest of Odin so surprised about the possibility of sacrificing monsters for power? I got the impression he was genuinely surprised about the idea of sacrifice, fire with fire comment, which does not make much sense if they themselves do the same.

    Of course, if true this makes the whole witch binding rituals a rediculous hypocritical affair. It is one thing to bind somebody that gains power through sacrificing creatures, but another if you do so yourself as your primary means of spellcasting. I also find the whole binding stuff a bit odd. It is just adding a binding geas to a forced conversion, or do they even accept the now bound witch to stick to their old religion?

    O well, such hypocracy is stapple in real life as well ;) It just drew me into the wrong conclusion about the difference between priests and witches.

    1. > If that is true (Aesir priests sacrificing criminals for power), then
      > why was the priest of Odin so surprised about the possibility of
      > sacrificing monsters for power?

      Occam's razor:
      When you hear hoof beats think horses, not unicorns. Monsters, especially the demonic kind, are much more dangerous and a lot less common than humans. Predators typically do not predate other predators, at least not if they have other options. They go after prey that offers the best return for their effort, which means numerous, easy to catch, and easy to take down. There is no percentage in hunting something for your dinner that stands a reasonable chance of making you its dinner instead and is rare enough you have to do a lot of searching to find a specimen in the first place.

      Translated into human terms how long do you think a violent criminal would last that whose victims of choice are on duty law enforcement officers or military? Not very. Which is why in the real world career criminals stick to soft targets like gasstations or liquor stores, and don't try to knock over the local FBI office for the petty cash box.

      The highpriest's surprise is warranted, because while what Cerise does may be ethical (sort of) it is not logical, nor likely to be practiced by most if any other witches. If you learned somebody was a hunter would you think whitetail from a deerstand with a scoped rifle, or sabretooth tiger on foot with a flintstone knife ('cause a steel blade just wouldn't be sporting)? Or perhaps more on point, if you hear serial killer do you think Jeffrey Dahmer or Dexter Morgan.

      It's apparent that witchcraft has a very strong sympathetic element. You quite literally are what you eat. If you consume other humans that doesn't really matter much (aside from being ethically questionable... and possibly cannibalism) as its the same species. If however you were to absorb the essence of something inhuman like a monster or a demon it becomes part of you, changes you mentally and physically. The more you consume and the more powerful the being in question is the more pronounced the changes. Do it enough and eventually the human part gets crowded out by the demonic ones, leaving a chimera: a magical patchwork creature monstrous in mind and body.

      We've seen this phenomenon with some of the refugees after the fel-wolf barbecue, and of course Cerise is pretty much the posterchild for why demon/monster sacrifice isn't a very popular (or at least wellknown) practice among witches: even if you succeed (aka don't die) it fucks your shit up, piece by piece.

      I don't think there's any doubt that without Avila and later Daniel for an emotional anchor Cerise would have long since gone amok. She'd have turned into a mindless blood-kite, blindly kill- and devouring all life in her path until somebody with enough muscle on call and no sense of humor finally had her hunted down like a rabid dog (which at that point she'd pretty much be).

    2. > I got the impression he was genuinely surprised about the idea
      > of sacrifice, fire with fire comment, which does not make much
      > sense if they themselves do the same.

      Because they _don't_ do the same thing, at least not how they probably see it. The difference may be a technical one, but the way priestly magic/witchcraft appears to work who or what you sacrifice _does_ matter on a very fundamental level, especially when it involves supernatural beings.

      > Of course, if true this makes the whole witch binding rituals a
      > ridiculous hypocritical affair. It is one thing to bind somebody
      > that gains power through sacrificing creatures, but another if
      > you do so yourself as your primary means of spellcasting.

      Thing to keep in mind:

      Different cultures have different values. I'm not a moral relativist, i'm simply stating fact: the way we (1st world westerners) think and view the universe is a decided minority opinion not shared by most of humanity present much less past (or in this case sideways). We are are a radical outlier, a superior outlier in many if not all respects, but an outlier nonetheless.

      In this instance sacrificing condemned prisoners might be viewed as a form of legal execution, perhaps even an act of spiritual redemption for the person in question, affording them entry to a better afterlife than had the temporal authorities punched their ticket instead (scandinavian polytheism had a bit of a bee in the bonnet about what constituted an honorable death. I doubt getting strung up for grand theft horse by the local sheriff qualified you for partying at casa del thor).

      > I also find the whole binding stuff a bit odd. It is just
      > adding a binding geas to a forced conversion, or do
      > they even accept the now bound witch to stick to
      > their old religion?

      The impression I got was they could compel behavior, perhaps even black list specific thoughts, but not actually negate free will.

      IIRC Daniel believed that one of the critical flaws of the whole binding ritual magic was that as long as the bound person could rationalize their actions to themselves as being within the strictures placed on them they could do as they pleased (and humans are _superb_ rationalizers).

    3. The priest was surprised that Cerise was stealing power from monsters because Hecate’s followers normally target humans instead. They’ve been fighting a very nasty insurgency against the followers of the Aesir for a long time, and have no compunction about feeding on the souls of their enemies. This approach only gives them modest amounts of power, but the psychic damage is relatively manageable as long as they pace themselves carefully.

      A witch who preys on magical nonhumans will tend to get very powerful very quickly, but they also tend to go insane from the first sacrifice. Even a small fragment of a demon’s soul is more magically powerful than a novice witch, and will tend to dominate her instead of being digested properly. Doing it multiple times only worsens the problem, since you end up with the conflicting instincts of all those monsters warring for dominance in your head. Not to mention that most witches aren’t powerful enough to win a fight with the tougher sorts of monsters in the first place, so trying to prey on them would just be suicide.

      So Holger Drakebane was intrigued at the idea of using Cerise as a disposable weapon against the monsters. A mental binding is powered by the victim’s own magic, so making her stronger just increases its influence over her. At some point she’d become so insane that it would start to get unreliable, but he figured she could potentially go through a lot of monsters before then.

  22. Is the supernatural winter global, or would it make sense for Daniel & co to board/craft a ship headed for Spain?

    1. At the moment Daniel doesn't know, but this will come up in the next book.

  23. Can Daniel use his flesh magic to make Cerise look more human? or is her look permanent?

    1. I doubt any physical changes made by Daniel would last as it would be treating the symptom but not the cause.

      Cerise's inhuman appearance is a side-effect from (ab)using her personal magic. As long as those stolen magics are part of her - or at least remain unstabilized and poised to overwhelm the human they've been grafted onto - she'll probably always revert back to it.

      long before reverting back to their original state

    2. This was along the lines of my initial thoughts, however given Daniels strong meta magic one wonders if he could increase how human she looks in her human form.

    3. I think forming the coven bond will actually help a lot more in this regard. Cerise is probably unable to look fully human because she is not completely in control of her power. With the coven formed and restrictions in place it should help her control her power more fully and enable her to revert to a human appearance. That said a semi-demon cerise is wicked hot!

    4. Grimmelhausen and Gaurav have this one about right. While it would certainly be possible for Daniel to affect her appearance with flesh magic, getting her demonic power under better control would be a more effective solution.

  24. Ah I just re-read Fimbulwinter and enjoyed it immensely, got a big pumped, found this forum and posted a load, hope you don't mind :P

    I re-read 'cause I read a manga called: The Gamer, which reminded me of Fimbulwinter because in it the main character is able to power-game himself in a way reminiscent but based on entirely different mechanics, to Daniel Black. (Recommend it, excellent read)

    Book 1 felt a bit like a chase movie, on the run, no time to do much more than regroup, certainly not time to experiment and grow. It kept the action real and interesting and the growth of the character was logical and flowed...

    So is Book 2 going to involve more time to theory craft and experiment? Maybe some exploration of the country or at least looking at maps or something?

    I guess all those are spoilers, damn it...

    Okay actual question: Hestia and Hectate are both Olympian/Greek gods, so they're either in the wrong area geographically, or there aren't any areas left 'controlled' by the Olympian Pantheon, right?

    So could Daniel become a witch(warlock?) for an Olympian god as another source of power? (not that he needs one...)

    Could he become head of a church for that god even?

  25. There will be more information about the history and divine politics of this world in the next book.

    Yes, Daniel could become a warlock if he wanted to. But considering that he grew up with modern morals and the Christian idea of an omnipotent God, that probably isn't something he'd be in a hurry to do.

  26. Given the weather, and their dwindling supplies, has Daniel given any thought to using his powers to assist in growing food? I'm imagining that he could enclose a field using force walls, and then heat the enclosed area with his fire magic. Maybe he could enchant an object like his medallion to maintain the spells?

    1. Do you think he could use earth magic to manipulate needed minerals and nutrients for the plants?

    2. I'm assuming that the cold is being caused by the sunlight being weakened rather than just a general removal of energy from the atmosphere, but if so then there would also be a lack of sunlight that Daniel would need to compensate for too.

  27. I was just curious why Daniel and co. Would even think about settling down any in the north still instead of just running south until the hit warm weather?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. (spotted typo I made *)
      Because in a 20 year winter you don't expect to find a place that is more than (in my thoughts at least) 10 degrees(*) warmer than where they are now. The 20-year winter being supernatural would not be limited by things like "climate" or "facts".

    3. Also it will not be "just 20 year winter" Daniel said that it will be an ice age for thousands years.

  28. Hmm some great questions and points which I should be embarrassed at no seeing myself, but i got you guys carrying the weight. Question? If Kozalin is a significant stand point why hasn't Daniel created a manufacturing stone giving every soldier on the walls a warmth/healing/shield amulet. Not hard. the cold is chewing a lot of cals unnecessarily, all their barracks and towers should have his heating stones or heat charms.

    Also an old standard states we judge the level of civilization or its character by how they treat their old people. This is a resource Daniel with the ability to bypass old age and heal people to youth is ignoring. All that experience and ability languishing in old frail bodies close to death and with Ragnarok here and not chance at Valhalla they are prime candidates and a source for loyal and experienced warriors, administrators etc. I had a weird vision in bed last night of Daniel creating a manufacturing stone for combat armour that had all sorts of shielding/power/attack/healing/warmth(not to be ignored a in subzero fimbulwinter)/mobility etc. Then I filled them in with 60-70-80 year old dears, men and women with nothing to lose, given a chance to defend their descendants, given a second chance at life, a second chance to reach Valhalla. Given Daniels flesh sorcery the manufactured combat suits could be a standard size. The persons filling them are more mutable. Say all 6' muscular but slender form. The volunteers from old age could be young, as beautiful as Daniel can create eg Nicole Kidman, Claudia Schiffer etc. or Brad Pitt for the guys who've languished as snow-topping or balding fat half blind and deaf ex-warriors/Captains reliving past glories. What an untapped resource when feeding the old in a siege situation is a major moral issue. Sorry then i got a bit weird and wondered considering that dragons are actually an issue here whether Daniel can use Avilla's skill to create dragon-hearted people like Gronir's Wolfen. Everything is a survival game at this time and the untapped resources available with the refugees puzzles me. Still I love the uncertainty of where this series is taking us. Sooo much fun, awesome moral questions, expanded sexual questions of what is "normal". Come on E. WIlliam bring it on!!!

  29. Further question, flesh sorcery can seemingly add bulk and size to anything, therefore any refugees harbouring the odd chicken should be able to ask Daniel to turn it into at least elephant size feeding half a district. Or is this a serious question between mass conversion versus magical practicality versus impossible physics (sorry natural philosophy)